The history of Tanjore Paintings dates back to Marathas conquest of South India during 16th century. Thanjavur Paintings flourished under the patronage of the Nayak & Maratha princes in the 16th to the 18th centuries.
The art was practiced by two main communities namely - the RAJUS in THANJAVUR and TRICHY and NAIDUS in MADURAI [a city ruled by PANDIYAS]. The artists [Rajus & Naidus] who are originally Telugu speaking people from "Rayalseema" region, moved to Tamil Nadu in the wake of the Nayaks rule of Madurai & Tanjore. The paintings were rooted in tradition and innovation was limited. The art was sacred to those master craftsmen who chose to be anonymous and humble.